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Understanding of how the web works from a technical standpoint is a great asset to SEO. This is where worlds normally collide. There are those that know marketing and business, and there are those that know programming, technology, engineering and the like. Bridging the gap of communication alone can be a valuable asset to an SEO team. I’m sure if you’re reading this you get the picture. I’ve been really enthralled with learning Apache mod-rewrite and even dabbling a bit in regular expressions lately. Though some of the below doesn’t qualify under the normal “tools” guidelines, I think developing an understanding of these areas is a skillset an SEO can’t really afford to be without. Thanks to the help of Justin Womack (who also helped me with some mod-rewrite for this site), I’ve managed to learn a bit about the server side of things and put together some tools for others as well. Jdmorgan has also been an immense help in getting the rewrite rules working properly. If you need some help with this stuff, these are the guys to see. I really haven’t dug enough into doing url rewrites on an IIS server (mainly because it is much more difficult to get the access required to play with it), but have included a few tools and tutorials for those on the IIS platform as well. With regards to dynamic urls and sites, the biggest thing that always sticks in my mind is CONSISTENCY. Pick a url structure and stick with it. If you don’t, make sure you are using the proper 301 permanent redirects, preferably with an architecture you can change across the board. If you must do it at the language level, there is a good tutorial done by Jake called redirects for fun and profit at WMW. Find out exactly what mod-rewrite can and can’t do.
IIS and Apache Mod rewrite tools
- Mod-rewrite tool from SEO Guy
- IIS url rewriter tool
- Regex Builder
- ISAPI Rewrite for IIS servers – Try ISAPI rewrite light for free
- Server Header Checker – be sure the redirects are working properly
- IP Address of Search Spiders *for creative uses
Resources and Forums
- A beginner’s guide to URL redirection ** – Read this first!
- Another guide on the basics
- IIS Permanent redirect
- WMW Apache Forum
- Mod-rewrite.com forum from SEO-guy
- Modrewrite.com forum
- Mod-rewrite Tutorial
from Dirk of Fantomaster part II,III, and IV
- DigitalPoint Site and Server Administration forum
- 30 min. Regex tutorial
- Apache Mod-rewrite documentation
- Apache Mod-rewrite reference guide
- Handy guide of flags and variables for mod-rewrite as well as some .htaccess basics
- Image anti-leech code
- Serving content based on IP address (geotargeting or cloaking) – side
note – one interesting highly applicable use of ip delivery that I’ve heard mentioned is serving spiders prioritized content, meaning if
they come to the site, they get served before anyone else. By improving server response time to spiders, it improves the likelihood that those spiders
will return quickly and often.
- Denying access from problem IP’s
- Fighting competitive analysis from others
Thanks to Jake and Mikkel for doing a great session on Search Engines & Web Server Issues seminar at SES. The last three applications are courtesy of Jake’s presentation. I’m sure there are lots of others after you realize the power of the functionality. It’s always nice to have good applications to start playing with something this arcane. If you think of other useful applications be sure to let me know.